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PFT's Week Two picks

[Editor's note:  Each week, Rosenthal and I will go head to head,
picking the winner of each game.  The guy who does worse each week gets
to be the one to copy and paste together the text the next week.  Last week, we tied.  The NBC Competition Committee decided that I should have to copy and paste it all together again.  And so I'll take the high road and accept the ruling.  In three days, after everyone applauds me for taking the high road, I'll bitch about it on the radio.]

[UPDATE:  As it turns out, we didn't tie.  Rosenthal won.  And I should have kept my damn mouth shut when I realized that he'd counted his victories incorrectly.]

Bills at Packers

Florio’s take:  In Week Two of the 2009 season, the Packers hosted an AFC team, and the AFC team stole a win.  In Win Two of the 2010 season, another AFC team comes to town.  But there’s a big difference between last year’s Bengals and this year’s Bills.  Even with Packers running back Ryan Grant done for the year, Green Bay has too much talent — and the Bills don’t have nearly enough.

Florio’s pick:  Packers 42, Bills 19.

Rosenthal’s take: This reminds me of the blowout specials Florio used to get to pick last year when we split the workload.  You could try to make a case for the Bills, but you’d be trying too hard.  Buffalo doesn’t have the receiver depth to test Green Bay’s secondary.  The Bills’ three-headed running game was oddly underused last week.  Their screens were predictable.  Holes closed on C.J. Spiller a lot faster than they did at Clemson or in the preseason.  Don’t expect daylight this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Packers 27, Bills 10.

Dolphins at Vikings

Florio’s take:  The Vikings’ offense and the Dolphins’ defense cancel each other out.  So this one will come down to the ability of the Minnesota defense to bottle up the Miami offense.  Given that the Bills were able to keep the attack largely in check last week, the Vikings should have no problems shutting them down.

Florio’s pick:  Vikings 24, Dolphins 12.

Rosenthal’s take: Miami’s defense was impressive in Buffalo.  Mike Nolan did a lot of fun things with Karlos Dansby and Cameron Wake; they can get pressure on Brett Favre. Even short a few players, this is an improved linebacker group.  Favre also may not be ready to take advantage of a Dolphins secondary that features Benny Sappy a little too prominently.  There’s an old axiom that you shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless you think they can win. 5.5 points feels like too much.  So let’s just go all the way and take the Dolphins in an upset special.  (I changed this pick at the last minute, which is the kiss of death.)  [Editor's note:  Hey, Rosey, if you're gonna pick the upset, just pick the upset and be done with it.]

Rosenthal’s pick: Dolphins 23, Vikings 21.

Chiefs at Browns

Florio’s take:  With former Patriot Scott Pioli running the Chiefs and former Patriot turncoat Eric Mangini coaching the Browns, this one carries a strong undercurrent of hostility.  Then there’s the fact that Browns running back Jerome Harrison shredded the K.C. defense for 286 yards last December.  Look for the new-look Chiefs to bring their new attitude to Ohio, and to send the Browns to a loss in the second of two games that most expected Cleveland to win.

Florio’s pick:  Chiefs 20, Browns 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Remember all the positive energy in Kansas City on Monday night?  Imagine that, but the complete opposite happening in Cleveland if the Browns fall behind Sunday.  Jake Delhomme’s injury doesn’t hurt the Browns, though.  Seneca Wallace is different, and could force the Browns coaches to get creative with a roster that begs for creativity to make up for a lack of talent.  Eric Mangini can’t afford to lose the Belichick B-team Bowl after last week’s collapse in Tampa.  Romeo Crennel knows just how to lose in Cleveland.

Rosenthal’s pick: Browns 17, Chiefs 14.

Bears at Cowboys

Florio’s take:  The Bears lucked into a win at home and the Cowboys squandered a victory of their own on the road.  This week, the Cowboys head back to Dallas, 25 years after the Bears authored a 44-0 beatdown of the ‘Boys.  The Bears haven’t won in Big D since the year after that game — and their streak of futility will continue.

Florio’s pick:  Cowboys 24, Bears 10.

Rosenthal’s take: No clue what to make of the Bears after last week.   Jay Cutler moved the ball very well, Matt Forte is revived, and the defense stuffed Detroit all day.  Yet they still needed a lucky call to save them from an opening loss at home.  The Cowboys are easier to read.  Their offensive line has problems and they know it.  The defense is great.  Will the return of two injured, older starting lineman be enough to turn things around?  It’s enough this week.

Rosenthal’s pick: Cowboys 24, Bears 20.

Cardinals at Falcons

Florio’s take:  The Cards barely beat a still-bad Rams team last week, and the Falcons gave fits to the Steelers on their home field.  Atlanta realizes that the window will close quickly if they can’t keep pace with the Saints.  Besides, Falcons are far more menacing birds.

Florio’s pick:  Falcons 28, Cardinals 20.

Rosenthal’s take: Arizona fans complaining about style points last week need to get a grip.  Kurt Warner has left the building.  This is a different Cardinals team, and they are going to have to win creatively while Derek Anderson figures things out. The guy led two impressive fourth-quarter drives last week and that will do for now.  Matt Ryan, on the other hand, has struggled to move the ball since the preseason.  I think Atlanta’s improved defense carries the day here.  Both these teams deserve to be 1-1. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Falcons 19, Cardinals 14. 

Buccaneers at Panthers

Florio’s take:  Since 2003, the Panthers have handled the Bucs on 11 of 14 occasions.  Though Tampa pulled off a minor surprise on Sunday against the Browns, the Panthers can be expected to take care of business on their own turf.  If they can’t, Carolina could be 0-5 at the bye.

Florio’s pick:  Panthers 24, Buccaneers 14.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bucs have a golden opportunity to go 2-0, even if Panthers starting quarterback Matt Moore plays as expected despite a concussion last week.  Raheem Morris has the Bucs defense looking improved, like they did at the end of last year.  These two similar teams fly well below the NFL radar and got against current league norms.  They want to win with running, defense, and not screwing things up too badly passing the ball.  John Fox has more practice.  And better running backs. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Panthers 20, Bucs 13.

Eagles at Lions

Florio’s take:  With Mike Vick making his first start since 2006, the question becomes whether he can play like he did against the Packers, who weren’t prepared to face him, when facing a Lions team that knows Vick will be the guy.  Lions coach Jim Schwartz never has had to defend Vick; when Schwartz served as defensive coordinator for the Titans, Schwartz’s team was the last one to play the Falcons before Vick returned from a broken leg.  Look for Schwartz to try to keep Vick in the pocket in the hopes that he’ll be forced to throw — and that he’ll force a few mistakes.  And then Kevin Kolb will get “healthy” quickly.

Florio’s pick:  Lions 20, Eagles 13.

Rosenthal’s take: The battle of the tortured fan bases.  The rest of the world learned about what it meant to be a Lions fan this week.  Week One, full of hope, they lost their young franchise quarterback and a game in the most painful way possible.  The Lions have a vertical passing attack with the weakest-armed quarterback in the league in Shaun Hill.  Eagles fans have it pretty good, but they like drama.  They talked up Kevin Kolb all offseason, then gave up on him after 30 minutes.  It’s hard to blame them after the way Michael Vick played last week.  Vick will put it to the Lions just to make this whole situation more ridiculous.

Rosenthal’s pick: Eagles 27, Lions 16.

Ravens at Bengals

Florio’s take:  The Bengals somehow swept the Ravens last year.  It won’t be happening again in 2010.  Baltimore looks as good as they ever have looked, and the Bengals looked nothing like they looked a year ago.  Look for Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis to continue to drop the hammer on anyone who looks in his direction.

Florio’s pick:  Ravens 23, Bengals 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Bengals defense said they were confused early against the Patriots.  So were guys like Tedy Bruschi that picked Cincinnati to go to the Super Bowl.  At least the Bengals passing attack showed signs of life after the early disaster.  It may have been garbage time, but Carson Palmer couldn’t put up big stats any time last year.  Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has the weapons to take advantage of Baltimore’s secondary.

Rosenthal’s pick: Bengals 27, Ravens 23.

Steelers at Titans

Florio’s take:  Last year, these two teams kicked off a season that many assumed would end in a playoff rematch.  Neither qualified for the postseason.  This year, both look like they’re on their way to another trip to January.  It all comes down to the Steelers defense against the Titans offense, and the Steelers defense is simply too tough.

Florio’s pick:  Steelers 13, Titans 9.

Rosenthal’s take: The Titans were my pick to win the AFC South in the PFT Season Preview, so I’m basically going to take them at home unless they are facing the ’85 Bears.  The Steelers defense isn’t at that level, but it could wind up being the best in 2010.  Pittsburgh can neutralize Chris Johnson — they held him to 57 yards in last year’s opener.  So it will come down Vince Young versus Dennis Dixon and Young should be up for the challenge. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Titans 14, Steelers 10.

Seahawks at Broncos

Florio’s take:  Former Broncos quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who was essentially run off when Josh McDaniels became the head coach, returns to town with a team that unexpectedly won in Week One by 25 points.  But it’s one thing to put a pasting on the 49ers at home in the season opener, it’s quite another to do it in Denver.

Florio’s pick:  Broncos 24, Seahawks 17.

Rosenthal’s take: These teams that are a total mystery, especially the Seahawks.  Can Seattle play so inspired without the 12th man?  What is this team good at precisely?  It looks like Pete Carroll is going to make this defense better and more interesting.  The offense has work to do.  In Denver, I know what I’m getting from Kyle Orton and his band of merry secondary receivers.  The Broncos can beat suspect NFC West teams at home.

Rosenthal’s pick: Broncos 28, Seahawks 21.

Rams at Raiders

Florio’s take:  The Rams looked better than expected in Week One; the Raiders looked far worse.  But Oakland is at home and the Rams are still learning how to win.  Though neither team will be embarrassed, look for the Raiders to take care of business in the Black Hole.

Florio’s pick: Raiders 17, Rams 10.

Rosenthal’s take: The optimism stops here for one of these teams. The Raiders wouldn’t be able to sell progress after a blowout loss on the road and a home loss to the Rams.  Sam Bradford has given the Rams hope for the future, but the present looks awfully bleak if they go 0-2 with a soft opening schedule.  Two Raiders, including Jason Campbell, alluded to being overconfident heading into the Titans game.  You know, because of their draft grades.  Losing 11 or more games for seven years hasn’t humbled this franchise.  Maybe losing to the Rams will. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Rams 21, Raiders 17.

Texans at Redskins

Florio’s take:  The reunion of the Shanahans and Gary Kubiak adds intrigue to a game that suddenly has become one of the best of the weekend give the teams’ performances in Week One.  We’ll quickly find out whether Houston tailback Arian Foster rolled up all those yards because he played against a bad run defense or because the Texans have become the ultimate “pick your poison” pass/run attack.  And we’ll find out whether the Redskins’ offense can score a touchdown or two without having it handed to them.

Florio’s pick:  Texans 27, Redskins 24.

Rosenthal’s take: Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak are road favorites coming off a huge win. This is exactly the game they usually trip over, which worries me. Also worrisome:  Every aspect of the Redskins offense except their tackle play.  (How odd is that?)  Washington just doesn’t have enough firepower to hang with Houston, who should give Arian Foster a break and only rush him 25 times this week. 

Rosenthal’s pick: Texans 24, Redskins 17.

Patriots at Jets

Florio’s take:  During an offseason of incessant Jets chirping, the Patriots have remained largely silent.  Apart from Tom Brady’s acknowledgement that he hates the Jets, the Pats have avoided the trash talk.  Instead, the Patriots have saved it for the field, and the Jets may have a hard time saving themselves as the Pats make the only kind of statement that truly matters in football.

Florio’s pick:  Patriots 35, Jets 13.

Rosenthal’s take: What goes up in the NFL usually comes down. And vice versa.  An overconfident team loses one week, gets ripped, and plays hungry the next time out.  Last year, Rex Ryan called the Jets’ Week Two game against the Patriots the team’s Super Bowl.  This one is far more important.  The Jets know they can’t go 0-2 at home to start the year. The Jets defense still looks great. The offense can find a way on the ground.  Don’t crown the Patriots yet; this will be a season-long battle.



Rosenthal’s pick: Jets 20, Patriots 16.

Jaguars at Chargers

Florio’s take:  Most expected one of these teams to be 1-0 and the other to be 0-1; few expected that the Jaguars would be undefeated and that the Chargers would be winless.  Though it may feel like a home game for the Jaguars since the stadium will be partially empty (rim shot!), the Chargers have the horses to get back to 1-1 against a Jaguars team that overachieved against the Broncos.

Florio’s pick:  Chargers 30, Jaguars 21.

Rosenthal’s take: The Chargers talked all offseason about avoiding yet another slow start to the year, and then slogged through a loss in the Kansas City rain.  Weather should be more conducive to vertical passing in San Diego this week. I don’t trust either secondary or either pass rush, even if Aaron Kampman looks like a fine pickup.  I’ll take Philip Rivers in a shootout over David Garrard every time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Chargers 34, Jaguars 26.
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Giants at Colts

Florio’s take:  Peyton Manning has started 0-1 only three times in his 13-year career.  Only once, as a rookie in 1998, has Peyton Manning begun a season at 0-2.  This time around, Peyton takes an 0-1 mark into his second career game against his kid brother.  And more importantly than not going 0-2 to Peyton will be avoiding losing to Eli.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

Florio’s pick:  Colts 31, Giants 19.

Rosenthal’s take: Both brothers have grown up a lot since the last Manning Bowl.  Peyton won a Super Bowl and did the United Way spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eli won a Super Bowl, got significantly better after the title, and adjusted his Southern fraternity mop top.  That makes this a fair fight, especially if the Giants pass rush has truly reawakened.  Fair, but not equal.  Peyton is still the one with MVPs and Peyton doesn’t start the year 0-2.

Rosenthal’s pick: Colts 34, Giants 30.

Saints at 49ers

Florio’s take:  Rarely if ever has a team with high expectations imploded as quickly as the 49ers.  They open their home schedule with a visit from the Saints, who will have had the longest possible non-bye-week time to prepare for the game, playing on a Thursday and next on the following Monday, 11 days later.  After the game, Niners coach Mike Singletary will be thanking Sean Payton in the same way Singletary thanked Pete Carroll.  

Florio’s pick:  Saints 30, 49ers 13.

Rosenthal’s take: Weirdly dangerous game for the Saints against an ornery 49ers team.  New Orleans fans don’t like that I questioned their run defense this week, but one game doesn’t erase all of last season and a shaky linebacker group.  Luckily, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams doesn’t have to get too creative to stop Alex Smith and the 49ers passing attack.  Load up the box, and dare Smith to beat you.  The Saints are in Payton/Brees version 5.0.  The essentially can do anything they choose with a veteran group of receivers.  The 49ers can’t get the play calls in on time.

Rosenthal’s pick: Saints 27, 49ers 21.

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Chargers waive Jonas Mouton

Seattle Seahawks v San Diego Chargers Getty Images

The Chargers have let go of a former second-round pick whose career has been marked by injuries.

The club waived linebacker Jonas Mouton with a failed physical designation on Wednesday, the team announced. In all, Mouton – the No. 61 pick in 2011 — played just three games for San Diego, recording one tackle. The 26-year-old Michigan product missed the 2013 season with a torn right ACL and most of the 2011 campaign with a shoulder ailment.

In another transaction Wednesday, the Chargers placed right guard Jeromey Clary (hip) on the active/PUP list, the club said.

The Chargers have 89 players on their roster, one short of the limit. This includes ex-Ravens linebacker Adrian Hamilton, whose signing the team announced Tuesday. The 26-year-old Hamilton (6-3, 255) played in two games for Baltimore in 2012.

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Suggs wants Flacco to drop more “F” bombs

Joe Flacco AP

Yes, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has the hardware and the cold-hard-straight-cash-homey.  But is he ready to become a true franchise quarterback?  The kind of guy who acts like an unofficial member of the coaching staff, getting in guys’ faces when they screw up and/or periodically firing off a primal scream, Tom Brady-style, in order to keep his head from exploding, Scanners-style.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs wants to see Flacco act more like Brady and Peyton Manning, pissing and moaning and generally having tantrums when guys don’t show the same abilities and smarts as their on-field leaders do.

“Joe is just ‘Cool Joe,’” Suggs said upon arrival at training camp, via the team’s official website.  “Most of the time he’s not the most vocal.  But sometimes we may need that.   He may have to cuss somebody out.  He may have to cuss me out.  It’s good to hear your quarterback get after somebody sometimes.  I think it will be a good thing.”

Suggs suggested that Flacco has in the past been more passive-aggressive when it comes to making his points.  Suggs wants Flacco to be aggressive-aggressive.

“He has cussed me out before, but Joe knows how to do his little subliminal slick shots,” Suggs said.  “We’re looking for a little bit more direct. . . .  I’ve said it from the jump: We have a lot of leaders on this team.  I’m really looking forward to seeing Joe Flacco come into his own.  Be one of those premier, elite quarterbacks and talk to his team.  We’re definitely going to stand behind Joe, stand behind Haloti [Ngata] and hopefully they all stand behind me.”

The knock from some on Flacco is that he doesn’t seem to care enough.  Basically, Suggs is trying to get Flacco to care more.  Or to at least act like he does.

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Chris Johnson cleared for full practice, “flying” during conditioning run

Chris Johnson AP

Jets running back Chris Johnson didn’t do much during the spring while making his way back from knee surgery, but he said Wednesday that he’s ready to work.

Johnson said, via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, that Dr. James Andrews cleared him to make a full return to practice when the Jets hold their first session of training camp on Thursday. Johnson isn’t sure if the Jets will give him the green light to do everything right away, but it doesn’t look like the knee will hold him back from earning reps ahead of Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell.

Coach Rex Ryan said that Johnson was “flying” during the team’s conditioning run and that speed is the reason why the Jets signed him to join an offense that was devoid of playmakers last season.

Johnson wasn’t the only player to do well during the conditioning test as Ryan revealed that everyone on the team passed the test for the first time in his six years as the team’s head coach. That left him with an “incredible” feeling about this year’s team, something that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those who have been listening to Ryan for the last week.

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Dean Cain, Matt Leinart trade barbs (yes, it’s still a little slow)

Leinart Getty Images

With plenty of camps still not open, there’s still some time for slow-news-days stories.  Especially when they involved former first-round busts.

Actor Dean Cain, talking to TMZ while loading groceries into his Ford F-150, cautioned Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel against living a Hollywood lifestyle.

“I do remember another quarterback, back in the day, coming out and being a high draft choice, and hanging out with the Hollywood starlets and stars, and never really doing that well,” Cain said.  “I didn’t say any names coming out of USC wearing No. 11 named Matt Leinart. . . .  I’m not saying Matt Leinart can’t get ladies, but he can’t get a contract in the NFL now.”

Said Leinart on Twitter, presumably in response:  “Put 7 years in, pretty sure that’s 7 more than 99% of the world.  Some people should stick to their day job because they couldn’t cut it!”

He’s right, but drawing an NFL paycheck for seven years and fulfilling the potential that made him a top-10 pick are two different things.  Leinart undoubtedly was a bust of near-historic proportions.”Stick to being D list!” Leinart added in a shot at Cain that pretty much ignores the current status of the guy who just played the D-list card.  The biggest question over the next few years is whether Manziel will eventually join them as guys who used to be not far less than they were expected to be.

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John Elway: It will never be the same here without Pat Bowlen

John Elway, John Fox AP

Broncos General Manager John Elway worked for Pat Bowlen for his entire playing career and he returned to the Broncos fold as an executive several years ago, which made Bowlen’s decision to step down as owner on Wednesday because he has Alzheimer’s Disease an emotional one for the team’s General Manager.

Elway shed a few tears at a Wednesday press conference about the change at the top of the team’s hierarchy, calling it a “sad, sad day” for the organization and saying that he hopes his bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day resides next to one honoring the team’s longtime owner.

“From the inside out, it will never be the same here,” Elway said, via the Denver Post. “He has given me so much. It’s going to be hard to walk through those doors and not see him.”

Team president Joe Ellis, who has taken over much of the day-to-day responsibility for running the team, also spoke at the press conference and promised to keep running the team the way that Bowlen did over the last three decades.

“We are going to do right by his family, the team and the community,” Ellis said. “This is really hard. It doesn’t change what we do. He loved running this team and was really good at it. … We all wish Pat would walk through that door and do what he did so well. But he left us a blueprint that’s easy to follow.”

The Broncos have had just five losing seasons since Bowlen bought the team and have won two Super Bowls while advancing to four others during his time as owner.

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Vikings waive DE Spencer Nealy, sign TE Michael Higgins

Jacksonville Jaguars v New Orleans Saints Getty Images

The Vikings have parted ways with suspended defensive end Spencer Nealy, waiving him on Wednesday, the club said.

The 24-year-old Nealy was banned four games in July for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Should Nealy sign elsewhere, he could take part in training camp and the preseason before serving his suspension, which can end no earlier than September 29.

To fill Nealy’s roster spot, the Vikings signed tight end Michael Higgins, a Nebraska-Omaha product who was on the Saints’ practice squad a season ago and played four regular season games for New Orleans from 2011 through 2012.

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Panthers sign center Fernando Velasco

Fernando Velasco AP

The Panthers have huge questions at offensive tackle entering training camp, but they added a little depth in the middle of the line Wednesday.

Via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review, the Panthers have signed center Fernando Velasco. Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson sent out a photo of his former Georgia teammate at the stadium today.

Velasco played well for the Steelers last year subbing for the injured Maurkice Pouncey, before tearing his Achilles in Week 13.

If he’s well, he gives the Panthers a solid backup option behind Ryan Kalil, as they didn’t have much experience in the middle.

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Chiefs, Jamaal Charles agree to new contract

Jamaal Charles AP

So much for the Jamaal Charles holdout.

Just as Chiefs players were reporting to training camp on Wednesday afternoon — and just as reports were coming in that Charles was officially a holdout — Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Charles and the Chiefs have agreed on a new contract.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that it’s a two-year extension that makes Charles the second-highest paid running back in the NFL, behind Adrian Peterson. Charles is now under contract to Kansas City through 2017. Charles was due to make $3.9 million this year, which is a fairly low salary considering that Charles plays a huge role in Kansas City’s offense — so huge that he is arguably the most important non-quarterback in the NFL.

Charles led the Chiefs last year not just in rushing with 259 carries for 1,287 yards, but also in receiving with 70 catches for 693 yards.

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Sidney Rice thanks the Seahawks on the way out the door

Sidney Rice AP

Sidney Rice stepped away from the NFL at age 27 today, but he said he wants to make sure Seattle knows he’s not going anywhere.

“After careful consideration and seven wonderful years playing in the National Football League, including the last three for the Seattle Seahawks, I have decided to retire from playing in the National Football League,” Rice said in a statement released by the team. “I have enjoyed my experiences with all of my coaches, teammates and passionate Seahawks fans. I take great pride in knowing I was one of the players signed to help build the foundation of the team that ultimately won the Super Bowl. I’ll be joining the 12s in support of the Seattle Seahawks as they take on the challenge to repeat. I appreciate all of the wonderful opportunities and look forward to establishing myself as a businessman. I will always be a Seahawk!”

Rice has invested his money back into his market, as he opened the first of five chicken-wing restaurants in June.

That kind of responsibility is part of the reason the Seahawks had such a response to Rice, who missed the second half of last season with a torn ACL.

“The entire organization would like to thank Sidney for his leadership over the past three seasons,” said General Manager John Schneider said. “His time as a Seahawks player displayed the core values that Pete and I aimed to bring to the program and Sidney is a true champion. We wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

Rice wasn’t a certainty to make the Seahawks roster this season, but he has clearly taken the steps to establish himself for the much longer career of being a retired football player, and done it the right way.

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Von Miller cleared to practice

Von Miller AP

The Broncos are doing the same roster housekeeping to start training camp as the other 31 teams in the league, but their roster shuffling won’t involve linebacker Von Miller.

Coach John Fox said Wednesday that Miller will avoid the Physically Unable to Perform list after tearing his ACL in Week 16 of last season. Fox said that Miller may be limited in practice in the early stages, something that seems like a good bet since passing on the PUP list now means it won’t be an option if Miller should need extra time to round into shape when the preseason comes to an end.

Defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson, defensive end Derek Wolfe and safety Rahim Moore, who all joined Miller on season-ending injured reserve last year, also avoided the PUP list. Cornerback Chris Harris, who tore his ACL in the postseason, was not so lucky. Harris was placed on the PUP list and Fox said his rehab is progressing as expected.

“He’s on schedule,” Fox said, via USA Today. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a guy work that hard to rehab. … It’s grueling.”

The Broncos have their first practice of training camp on Thursday morning.

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Trestman: Jordan Palmer will get first run at top backup QB job

Jordan Palmer AP

The eldest of the Bears’ backup quarterback options will get the initial shot at being the top reserve behind Jay Cutler.

Coach Mark Trestman indicated Wednesday that Jordan Palmer will have the first opportunity at the club’s second-team reps, the Bears’ official Twitter feed reported.

The 30-year-old Palmer has not played in an NFL regular season game since 2010. However, he has the most experience in the Bears’ scheme after re-signing with the club last October.

Sixth-round pick David Fales and ex-Panther Jimmy Clausen are the other competitors to replace Josh McCown as Cutler’s top backup. McCown starred in extended relief work a season ago, earning a starting job with Tampa Bay.

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Cardinals place Tyrann Mathieu on PUP list

Tyrann Mathieu AP

The Cardinals aren’t sure whether or not safety Tyrann Mathieu will be healed from torn ligaments in his knee in time to play in the team’s first regular season game, so it comes as little surprise to learn that he won’t be practicing with the team early in training camp.

Mathieu was one of two Cardinals placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list on Thursday, which means he’ll be held out of the team’s practices until the medical team feels he’s ready to take on a bigger workload. The procedural move can be undone at any point during camp, but Mathieu’s questionable status for Week One could lead the team to leave him on the list for at least the first six weeks of the regular season.

Mathieu will be joined on the PUP list by defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu. Ta’amu is also recovering from a torn ACL that was suffered in Week 17 last season and said in the spring that he hopes to return to action before the end of camp.

The Cardinals also waived wide receiver Kelsey Pope as they set their roster for the start of camp.

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Seahawks receiver Sidney Rice is retiring

Seattle Seahawks v Detroit Lions Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks will enter the 2014 season with one less player than they expected to have.

Per a league source, receiver Sidney Rice has decided to retire from football.  The source says that the 27-year-old Rice’s decision arises from his history of concussions.

More recently, Rice has been unable to play due to a knee injury suffered during the 2013 season.  A torn ACL caused him to miss eight games in the regular season and the playoffs.

Signed in 2011 after four seasons in Minnesota, Rice never came close to matching a breakout season third season in the league.  With Brett Favre arriving in Minnesota, Rice generated 1,312 receiving yards in 2009.  Since then, he has appeared in 16 regular-season games only once.

Cut after the 2013 season by the Seahawks, Rice rejoined Seattle in April after getting clearance from Dr. James Andrews.  Rice was due to earn a base salary of $1 million this year.

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NaVorro Bowman opens 49ers camp on the PUP list

NaVorro Bowman AP

Some of the roster moves teams are making come as a surprise, but the 49ers knew this one was coming.

The team announced linebacker NaVorro Bowman was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list.

Bowman suffered a torn ACL and MCL in last year’s NFC Championship Game, so he wasn’t expected to be back on the field for the start of camp.

But getting him back on the field early in the season will be crucial for the 49ers if they want to get back to that level, as Bowman was playing as well as any defensive player in the league last season.

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Kluwe suit on hold as settlement talks continue

Kluwe AP

Former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe will absolutely, positively sue the Vikings this week.

Unless he doesn’t.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, lawyer Clayton Halunen says that the lawsuit he previously promised to file on Wednesday has been placed on hold.  Instead, Halunen will take the next couple of weeks” to see whether the case can be resolved via negotiations with the team.

“We have spoken with the Vikings lawyer Joe Anthony and we have agreed to recommend to our clients that they continue with their conversations,” Halunen said Wednesday, via Tomassaon.  “We will not be taking any action pending the completion of those discussions.”

It’s a smart move, by both sides.  The early 1980s Wapnerization of America flooded courts with civil complaints, forcing judges to come up with mandatory mediation programs, which compel litigants to try to work out their differences under the auspices of a neutral third party.  Eventually, the Vikings and Kluwe will have to do just that.  With the facts of Kluwe’s case not very complicated, why not just do it now?

“We have not set a deadline so I can’t say there’s a deadline but I think both sides are interested in trying to determine whether or not our conversations are going to be a productive in a very short period,” Halunen said.

The real deadline comes on the two-year anniversary of May 2013 Kluwe’s release by the Vikings.  He’ll either sue or settle long before it’s four minutes to Wapner.

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